Long-time Delano High School football coach to be honored
By Ryan Gueningsman
and Matt Kane
DELANO, MN The Delano Fourth of July Celebration Committee has announced its selection of long-time Delano High School football coach Merrill “Pav” Pavlovich as the grand marshal for this year’s parade.
Recently inducted into the Minnesota State High School League Coaching Hall of Fame, Pavlovich has spent his 36-year coaching career at Delano High School, where he has amassed the 15th most wins in state football coaching history, including 10 Wright County Conference titles and nine state tournament appearances.
“It’s an honor,” Pavlovich said of the selection. “Hopefully, it’s a reflection of the Delano football program, and not just me.”
So far, it’s been a banner year for Pavlovich, with his hall of fame induction, and now being honored by the Fourth of July Committee.
Pavlovich’s varsity football coaching resumé began in 1975, as a 27-year-old from the Iron Range. He was hired in Delano as a health and physical education teacher and, in 1990, became Delano’s activities director. He retired in 2008, but has kept coaching.
Pavlovich’s overall record is 252-115, which gives him a winning percentage of .687.
Pavlovich is supported by his family, which includes his wife of 39 years, Lynda; their two children, Maggie (Delano class of 1994) and Mike (Delano class of 1996), and three grandchildren. Maggie married a captain of Pavlovich’s 1993 team, Ryan Thomas.
After 36 years of coaching, Pavlovich said he’ll stop when he decides he no longer wants to do it.
“He just says he’s not ready yet. He still enjoys it and looks forward to it,” Lynda said. “I think the coaching staff makes that a really good experience for him.”
Pavlovich answered the question of retirement himself.
“I always have a rule of thumb: When I get up in the morning and decide I don’t want to coach football, I won’t,” said the soon-to-be 64-year-old. “I still have the desire. I look forward to the fall. I still want to be one of the boys of fall, I guess.”
He and his coaching staff have helped raise hundreds of other boys of fall in their 36 years. If each senior class averaged 15 football players, that would put the number of players Pavlovich has coached at 540.
Each and every one of the players who put on a helmet for Pavlovich is responsible for carrying him to the coaches hall of fame, according to the coach.
“It’s a reward for the program. The kids have done well,” said Pavlovich. “In that time, I’ve probably won a few I shouldn’t have, and I have probably lost a few I shouldn’t have.”
One thing Pavlovich said he mentioned in his hall of fame induction speech was the fact that he has “never stood alone.”
“I’ve always been surrounded by great kids, great coaches, great parents, and great administration,” Pavlovich said, noting that the Fourth of July is the biggest event of the summer in Delano, and that he hopes his honor as grand marshal is viewed as an honor for the entire football program.
“It’s really about the program and the kids,” Pavlovich said.
Beginning with summer camp, Pavlovich’s 37th football season will begin Monday, Aug. 15.
Delano’s Fourth of July Celebration
This year’s celebration will run Friday, July 1 through Monday, July 4, with the grand parade and fireworks taking place Monday, July 4.
Local-favorite Butch Automatic will kick things off in style Friday, July 1. GB Leighton will perform for the first time at the Delano Fourth of July Celebration Saturday, July 2.
Brat Pack Radio, which features local drummer Pete Johnson, will perform Sunday, July 3. Closing things down Monday, July 4 will be country favorite DiamondBack.
Along with the top-notch musical entertainment, organizers are proud to be bringing back the ever-popular baseball and softball tournaments, the GoldStar Carnival, all-star wrestling with Buck “Rock-N-Roll” Zumhofe, fireworks, and plenty of food and beverage options for the entire celebration.
The 27th annual 5k race will also be taking place in 2011, with sponsorships and runners presently being sought. In 2009, the course was certified with the USATF, which attracted more runners and took the event to a higher level.
“We are planning even more upgrades in 2011 to keep runners and their families coming back year after year for the quality and fun,” said co-race director Amy Johnson. For more information on the run, contact Johnson at (763) 972-9967.
New in 2011 will be the American Wrestling Federation, founded by Tony DeNucci, described as “fun, positive and entertaining Christ-centered, high-energy wrestling events for the whole family to enjoy.”
This will take place Saturday, July 2 at 5 p.m. at the park.
There are six organizations that make up the celebration committee the Delano Athletic Club, Delano Lions, Delano Sportsmen’s Club, Delano Jaycees, Delano Area Chamber of Commerce, and Delano American Legion.
For more on the Fourth, visit www.delano4th.com.